The biggest highlight of my year was the wedding of my beautiful son, Henry, to his beautiful wife, Stephanie. Our family instantly got bigger and better. (More on that and the power of love some other time.)
The nuptials happened in the same house we raised our kids in and where we put our dog Zero to sleep in October, which means I lost a dog but gained a daughter-in-law in 2018. Good times! Here’s to a peaceful 2019 for you and yours from me and mine.
The year that was:
Quote of the year: “Here in Minnesota, we don’t only welcome immigrants, we send them to Washington.” — Ilhan Omar, Nov. 6, upon becoming the first Somali-American elected to Congress.
Movies: “Sorry To Bother You”; “Time For Ilhan”; “BlacKkKlansman”; “Roma”; “RBG”; “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”; “Black Panther”; “Crazy Rich Asians”; “Black ’47”; “The Wife”; “A Star Is Born”; “Isle Of Dogs”; “Shoplifters”; “The Zen Diaries of Gary Shandling”; “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”
Best long-time coming opening (St. Paul): Keg and Case Market.
Best long-time coming opening (Minneapolis): Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery.
Records (national/international): I’m With Her, “See You Around”; Alejandro Escovedo, “The Crossing”; Yo La Tengo, “There’s A Riot Going On”; various artists, “Technicolor Paradise: Rhum Rhapsodies & Other Exotic Delights”; Paul Kelly, “Nature”; John Prine, “The Tree Of Forgiveness”; Ike Reilly, “Crooked Love”; Kasey Musgraves, “Golden Hour”; Bettye LaVette, “Things Have Changed”; Mitski, “Be the Cowboy”; Rosanne Cash, “She Remembers Everything”: Jeff Tweedy, “Warm”; Wussy, “What Heaven Is Like”; Pistol Annies, “Interstate Gospel”; Elvis Costello, “Look Now”; Amanda Shires, “To The Sunset”; Janelle Monae, “Dirty Computer”; Bob Dylan, “More Blood, More Tracks”; Caitlyn Smith, “Starfire.”
Midterm elections: So inspiring to see Omar, Angie Craig, Dave Hutchinson, Angela Conley and more pioneers leading a charge of more women and more people of color being elected to office on a day that signaled a slow-but-sure rebuttal to the circling-the-drain Trump years.
Most predictably unfailingly dispiriting view of your fellow Minnesotans: The Star Tribune comments section.
Books: Susan Orlean, “The Library Book”; Kevin Toolis, “My Father’s Wake: How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love and Die”; Dessa, “My Own Devices”; Tommy Orange, “There There”; various poets, “Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan”; Laura Dassow Walls, “Henry David Thoreau: A Life”; Jessica Hopper, “Night Moves”; Laura Groff, “Florida”; Allen Beaulieu, “Prince: Before The Rain”; Megan Bussen, “Regarding Megan Marie: Conquering Depression and Acquiring the Skill of Happiness”; Jeff Tweedy, “Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)”; Guante, “A Love Song, a Death Rattle, a Battle Cry”; Mark Andersen and Ralph Heibutzki, “We Are The Clash: Reagan, Thatcher, and the Last Stand of a Band That Mattered”; Robert Christgau, “Is It Still Good To Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967–2017”; Wing Young Huie, “Chinese-ness.”
Best reaction to Trump and the federal government’s draconian immigration laws: Bryce Tache and the “Stand On Every Corner” movement, in which protesters set up camp on the corner of Diamond Lake & Portland every night for five months, holding signs and raising voices in resistance. Powerful, poignant and much appreciated.
Most unforgettable live music cover song (local): Tina Schlieske bringing down the house at the Lady Parts Justice bash at the Cedar Cultural Center with her ferocious re-reading of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World.”
Most unforgettable live music cover song (national): Caitlyn Smith destroying the Turf Club with her version of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
Most disappointing rock show cancellation: Peter Perrett at the Turf Club. I’ve waited all my life to see the mythic leader of the late, great British rockers the Only Ones, and I’m starting to think he’ll remain forever a mystery, an unseen thing of my music-listening imagination, and part of me likes it like that.
Songs: Sarah Morris, “Happier Holidays”; Kacey Musgraves, “High Horse”: Willie Nelson, “Vote ’Em Out”; Ike Reilly, “Don’t Turn Your Back On Friday Night”; Childish Gambino, “This Is America”; Paul Metsa & Willie Walker featuring Sounds Of Blackness, “Ain’t Gonna Whistle Dixie Anymore”; Gully Boys, “Dizzy Romantics”; Doug Collins, “Conversation With My Heart.”
Best sports moment: Lindsay Whalen’s last Lynx game and post-game party, complete with a lengthy monologue from the guest of honor, was unlike anything this sports-crazy state has ever witnessed: A heartfelt, funny, life-affirming celebration of a hometown hero who continues to amaze.
“Hamilton.” As the Kavanaugh hearings heated up in Washington, D.C., I was happy to be at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, rocking to a multi-culti reimagining of American history that reminded everybody in the house what has always been great about this country: creativity, art, music and true freedom.
Best crash-course on America’s history of white racism: “Monumental Conversations: Lessons From Charlottesville,” Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. In which academics from Virginia and activists behind the name changes to Lake Calhoun, Patrick Henry High School, Coffman Union, Alexander Ramsey Middle School and Fort Snelling spoke passionately about reparation and real progress.
Most welcome should-be South Minneapolis tradition: To commemorate the re-opening of the 38th Street Bridge in August, city officials, community organizers and area chefs cooked and served dinner on the bridge over Interestate 35W, making for a most memorable urban picnic. More, please?
Records (local): Becky Kapell, “That Certain Ache”; Melissa Jones, “Late Bloomers”; Willie Murphy & The Angel-Headed Hipsters, “Dirtball”; Johnny Rey and The Reaction, “This Modern Age”; Low, “Double Negative”; Doug Collins & The Receptionists, “Good Sad News”; Prince, “Piano and a Microphone 1983”; Ahem, “Chutes & Ladders”; Genital Panic featuring Tina Schlieske, “Pussygrabber EP”; Bye Bye Banshee, “Deathfolk Magic”; Mother Banjo, “Eyes On The Sky”; Guante & Big Cats, “War Balloons”; Vickie Emerson-Wallace, “Steady Heart”; Kari Arnett, “When The Dust Settles”; Terry Hughes, “The Other Side”; Brianna Lane, “Even Year”; Eliza Blue, “South Dakota, 1st of May”; Dan Israel, “You’re Free”; Bad Bad Hats, “Lightning Round”; Ben Cook-Feltz, “BCF”; Graham Bramblett, “Standard Harmony”; Preston Gunderson, “Wake Up”; Acid Dad, “Acid Dad”; Matt Latterell, “People You May Know”; Dessa, “Chime”; Now, Now, “Saved”; Brass Lassie, “Brass Lassie”; M French, “Sweet Love”; Annie Fitzgerald, “You and Me and the Sun”; Bev, “Static Elastic”; Juli Christi Ann, “Before You Go”; John Louis, “Live at the Warming House.”
Best Spotify playlist: Mary Beth Hanson and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, “Press Play for Progress,” an inspiring mix from my favorite music lover/partner/social justice worker.
Best reaction to tragedy: March For Our Lives. In which hundreds of thousands gathered at the State Capitol in St. Paul and all over the country to demand gun control. Best sign: Photo of slain St. Paul school worker Philando Castile and “Where Were You For This Gun Violence?”
Best reason to turn off the news: Twin Cities music radio. As the AM dial and talk radio in this town veers drastically to the boring/voiceless/bland and/or thinly veiled Trump normalizations, I punch the FM dial and get everything I need by toggling between the Current, KMOJ, KBEM, KFAI and Radio K. Truly an embarrassment of riches, and it’s hard to believe there’s a better or more diverse radio market for great programming, subversion and discovery.
Live shows: Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express (Turf Club); Anderson East (First Avenue); The New Power Generation (First Avenue); Little Steven and the Disciples Of Soul (Ames Center); Elvis Costello & The Imposters (Northrop Auditorium); DeRay Mckesson at MinnPost’s 11th Anniversary Celebration (Cowles Center); Silverteens Christmas Show (Eagles Club); Kurt Vile & The Violators (First Avenue); Curtiss A’s 39th-annual John Lennon Tribute (First Avenue); The Waiting: A Tribute to Tom Petty (Lewis & Clark Brewing, Helena, Montana); Bad Bad Hats/Scrunchies/Jessica Manning (First Avenue); St. Dominic’s Trio Tuesdays (Driftwood Char Bar); Lolo’s Ghost Sunday Brunch (Driftwood Char Bar); Cornbread Harris (Hook and Ladder); Loudon Wainwright III (Cedar Cultural Center); Matt Arthur & The Bratlanders (Palmer’s Bar); Replacements Tribute/Hoot For Slim (Clown Lounge); Ike Reilly residency (Icehouse); The Ike Reilly Assassination (First Avenue); Max Weinberg’s Jukebox (Dakota); The Posies (Turf Club); Robyn Hitchcock and His LA Squires (Turf Club); The Wreck (Studio 2 Café); Los Tarantos (Driftwood Char Bar); The Belfast Cowboys (Lake Harriet); Johnny Marr (Varsity Theater); Graham Parker and The Belfast Cowboys (Brit’s Pub); “Quadrophenia” (Moon Palace Books); Robert Wilkinson (Studio 2 Café); Nick Hensley’s Minnesota Songwriter Showcase (Aster Café and Hideaway Burger Bar); Annie Fitzgerald (Aster Café); Irish Fair of Minnesota (Harriet Island); The Bad Man (Grumpy’s); Caitlyn Smith (Turf Club); Shawn Stelton (Studio 2 Café); Martin Devaney’s “Plaid On Plaid” CD release party (Turf Club); Allen Beaulieu’s “Prince: Before The Rain” release party with Curtiss A (Electric Fetus); Her Crooked Heart (Icehouse); Clark Adams (Dubliner Pub); Hutch A Go-Go (Driftwood Char Bar); Rude Girl (Nicollet Open Streets); The Mad Ripple Hootenanny (Studio 2 Café, Papa Charlie’s, Minnesota State Fair, Pearl Park).
Jim Walsh lives and grew up in South Minneapolis. He can be reached at email@example.com.